By Brie Gowen
I’ll start by saying this isn’t a judgmental post. I will be the first to tell you I’ve made many mistakes in my life, and living together with a man or two is definitely one I consider regrettable. So with that being said, anytime I feel like sharing some advice I’ve learned the hard way, please understand it’s with a heart of love. I hate for someone to experience the past pain I have seen in my time. Retrospect is a lovely animal, and it’s with that 20/20 vision I approach this subject, not from some pristine pedestal. Okay?
I recall hearing the advice growing up that getting married is like buying a car. You want to take it for a test drive before you make the purchase. It’s with that insight into relationships that I moved forward. If it made me feel good for a bit then that was enough. There wasn’t the outlook of “is this what’s best for my future?”
And that’s how a majority of society sees relationships. We have become a selfish society that focuses far too much on me, me, me. Look at your social media sites packed full of selfies, if that tells you anything. We do what feels good for the moment with little thought to tomorrow, and we lose our confidence in our fellow man along the way. Women settle for a guy who throws them a bone of attention, and not much is considered along the lines of a future mate. Ladies don’t ask, “Will he be a good husband?” or even a “good father.” They instead celebrate something as simple as a return text message or flirty Snapchat.
Dating is hard. I remember. But I believe to find a partner who respects you as something special and worthy, you must demand that respect. I don’t mean “demand” in a harsh manner. I think of something my grandma used to say. “Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
Here are my thoughts. They may not be yours, but for what it’s worth, here are mine. This will be the way I raise my daughters. I will tell them, “Your body is precious. It’s a gift. Don’t let anyone have it so carelessly. Sex is a beautiful covenant making you one flesh with your partner, and it’s something better kept until marriage.”
What happens when you become one flesh with “John,” but then it doesn’t work out? So then you go become one flesh with “Phillip.” Then “Steven,” and so forth. By the end of all your broken relationships, you’ve spread yourself all over the place. Your spirit has connected with so many people that you’re left splintered and torn. You’ll feel pretty beat up and broken, actually.
Once again, I have been down a wrong road more than once, and I can tell you that years of brokenness and rejection is no way to exist. Thank God, who brings healing, but it takes years, and some scars are left stubbornly behind to infect future relationships.
Well, what about if you’ve found your soulmate? You’ve found the one for whom your heart yearns, and together you decide “let’s move in together.” This is pretty common. I guess my question would be “why?”
Why move in together prior to getting married? It’s to try it out, right? You want to make sure you’re compatible before you take the step to get married. I can get that, but let’s dissect it for a minute.
Do you love this person? Can you see yourself marrying them?
If no, cut it off. End it now. No point in dragging it out for years and suffering the pain of a break up later.
If the answer is yes, then why do you need a trial of living together? I’ll just go ahead and save you the suspense. Living with someone is hard. It’s going to be hard either way, but if you love the person and you’re dedicated to a future together then make that commitment. Work together to solve your differences. Show your partner that you believe in the relationship enough that you’re willing to commit from the get-go. No one wants to be somebody’s trial basis, money back guarantee. Talk about a self-esteem wrecker.
If you care about someone enough that you want a future with them then you should be bold enough to step out and do things according to God’s directives. Don’t be a stumbling block for your future spouse. Show them that they’re special enough that you know right now you want to spend the rest of your life together. Because if you’re not sure you’re just being selfish with their emotions. You’re using them because it feels good now. You don’t know if it will feel good later, and that stinks. As a woman, nothing breaks your self-worth like a man not being willing to say they can foresee a life with you.
If you truly love someone you will respect their body, their heart and their spirit. You’ll respect their feelings of self-worth and you’ll cultivate their confidence in not only themselves, but also in your relationship by making a lifelong commitment that honors God. If you aren’t sure then maybe you should move on and work on you for a bit.
Nothing is quite so tender as the human heart. It’s made to be loved, to be special and to be worth committing to. That’s the only way it will ever feel complete. In my opinion, if you live together outside of marriage, there’s always a back door. The other person always knows in the back of their mind, “Hey, they can jump ship, no penalty anytime.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It actually makes you feel pretty ordinary and disposable. Not special at all.
Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t a judgement call. It’s simply an observation after years with a broken heart. Eventually you learn the hard way. I just thought I might save you the trouble.
About the Author: Brie Gowen is a 30-something (sliding ever closer to 40-something) wife and mother. When she’s not loving on her hubby, chasing after the toddler or playing princess with her four-year-old, she enjoys cooking, reading and writing down her thoughts to share with others. Brie is also a huge lover of Jesus. She finds immense joy in the peace a relationship with her Savior provides, and she might just tell you about it sometime. She’d love for you to check out her blog at BrieGowen.com.